A new disease of affluence, range anxiety, had been created by electric vehicles in the past few years, and now the portable charging solution proposed by an American startup Spark Charge has made its debut in California, where a minute of charge provides an additional mile of driving distance, which resolves the predicament when your electric vehicle is out of juice and towing is the only option.
Spark Charge had been implementing R&D for its portable charging solution since 2018, which is now officially launched in San Francisco and Los Angeles to provide emergency rescue services for electric vehicle owners.
This charger resembles the uglier version of R2D2, and supports 40A current, with a maximum voltage of 500V. Take Model S/X of Tesla for example, the charger can provide 1 mile (approximately 1.6km) of driving distance per minute of charge when used on the vehicle.
▲The black and white machine at the bottom left is the portable charging module that has become a standard configuration for road rescue vehicles.
This portable charger uses an 18650 cylindrical lithium-ion battery with a maximum efficiency of 20kW, and the entire system is divided into two components, where the top half is the charging module, and the bottom half is the battery unit, for which can be stacked and replaced, which in theory one can place as many batteries on the vehicle as one pleases, though it is unlikely in reality.
The charging module weighs 9kg, yet the weight of each battery is a whopping 22kg, with merely 3.5kWh of capacitance, and it would require roughly 20 batteries (440kg) to fully charge an electric vehicle.
▲Placing a maximum power system (5 batteries) on a vehicle increases the weight by 120kg, which equivalents to approximately 110km of additional driving distance.
General car owners and service providers will not go down this path unless under special requirements. Spark Charge is currently working with local towing and rescuing companies by placing a charging module with 5 batteries (a total of 17.5kWh) on the two trucks, where car owners can drive to a specific area to charge upon low battery, and receives a maximum of 70km driving distancing (approximately 112km), which is enough for them to drive to the nearest charging station.
The existing charging specification is CHAdeMo, and is applicable on all models of Tesla and Nissan Leaf, with the CCS specification being released this year, which supports more vehicle models.
Three Californian road rescue service providers of Agero, Atlas Towing, and G1 Towing are now providing the service roadside charging for electric vehicles, and the prices are yet to be decided since they are varied according to different scenarios. According to the statement provided by Spark Charge during an interview last year, a single charge will cost about US$20 (approximately NTD$600).
(Photo source: Spark Charge)